View Full Version : Went to a firemans funeral.
I went to a firemans funeral the other day and it has taken me this long to kind of digest it a little. I was shocked by it a little really.
First let me say it was NOT a line of duty death.
There was a parade of rigs from the local department as well as some of the surrounding departments. He was not there for a "last ride". After the parade arrived everyone kind of milled around and visited. There were some light refreshments like you might expect to find at a farm auction. There was a slide show at the back of the firehouse with pictures of the deceased. My Chief, a couple guys from the neighboring department and myself were the only four in uniform. A couple people from another neighboring department showed up in the regular response clothes, which is still pretty nice clothes, not quite dress uniform but not far from it. There were a couple sherriffs deputies there in regular sheriff duty clothes. No one from his own department even dressed up. They showed up with department T-Shirts or sweatshirts and blue jeans.
The Sheriff Chaplain read a poem, said a few words, said a prayer. A couple guys from his department read a couple poems. His mother and father said a few words. They raised the ladder truck. Everyone milled around for a while longer and slowly dispersed.
Not at all what I expected. What does everyone else think about it? How would this sort of thing be handled at your department? Keep in mind this was not a line of duty death.
About 2 years ago, we had a former chief pass away from a sudden heart attack. Since we are a young station, this was to be our first funeral. Our present chief borrowed all the nessessary black drapings form the City fire dept, and downloaded procedures from the IAFC website. We dumped the hose bed of his favorite engine and prepared it to carry the casket. A few of us made the truck parade ready (a week's task) in 2 days. The day of the funeral, everyone was dressed in Class A uniforms, the engine was draped in black and we had the service at the local funreal home. The presession was enourmous, about 15 trucks, all were parade ready, all members in class A uniforms. We had County PD escort us the entire route,almost 35 miles , with City PD blocking off every intercetion and on-ramp. As we passed stations, there as an honor guard at the edge of the road. A few words were said at the burial service and a 5-5-5-5 was put out. as the formal service ended, the family requested a short run of all Q2B sirens. It was a very moving service. To this day when we pass his house, we wind them out to let them know they are in our thoughts (Siren use is rare in our area, no one around on the roads).
I am assuming this is a volunteer department --Was he an "active" member, a long time "exempt" member who stayed in touch with the department, or a long time "exempt" member who had been out of touch for awhile? ("exempt" in our department means you have been in at least 12 years as an active responder, but no longer (or choose not to) respond to most calls. "exempt" is sort of a reward, you are still a member, but don't 'have' to do anything).
Since I have been a member (9 years) of our local department, we have had a few members pass away.
One member had been exempt for a long time. He would still show up to help out, but the last few years (due to health reasons) was unable to be around. A lot of the newer guys simply didn't know him. At his wake and funeral, probably 10 guys were able to attend in full dress (I wasn't able to).
Another member was a past chief, like 30 years ago. He had not been at the firehouse basically at all the last 15 or so years, but he had one heck of reputation. Nickname was "Smokin' Joe", not just for chain smoking he was also a classic "smoke eater" (air packs? we don't need no stinkin' air packs!). Probably half the department showed up at the wake, and also we had an honor guard at the cemetary.
Finally, one member (who I got to know very well) had been in since the late '60s, went exempt about 20 years ago. Although "exempt", he maintained a better response rate to calls than many active members, was at every drill and meeting, and was at the firehouse every sunday helping out. He helped train new guys, and had extensive knowledge of fire fighting. One sunday morning, he had a massive heart failure at the firehouse.
We had a funeral with full honors. Every member able, active and exempt, showed up in full dress. We had all the trucks out, and we brought his casket to the town cemetary in the back of our 1926 Childs through the center of town with us all marching.
Okay, long post. All members were remembered, but just practically speaking some affected more members than others. I think this is just the way things occur.
Originally posted by Tvov
I am assuming this is a volunteer department --Was he an "active" member, a long time "exempt" member who stayed in touch with the department, or a long time "exempt" member who had been out of touch for awhile?
Thanks for the experiences. That is the kind of thing that I was really expecting.
Yes, this is a volly dept. The guy was still an active member. He was the guy on the dept. that put little yellow smiley balls on the antennas of the trucks. He was the guy who was at nearly every call since he had no wife or children. He was very much an active part of the dept. His death, however, was away from duty and not fire related.
I just thought there would be more of a to do about it all.
The department I am with has had 5 LODD's in the last 5 years (yes, that ranks us 2nd behind FDNY for line of duty deaths since 2000). The funerals are huge affairs with thousands of dress uniformed FF's from our department, as well as FF's from all over TX, and small numbers from states all over the U.S.
We have also had a lot of off duty deaths. These are not as big of affairs. The department supplies an honor guard and the pipe & drums, and smaller numbers of uniformed personnel attend.
As a volunteer department, with an off-duty death, it sounds to me like what you described was a pretty nice service. I would not feel like it needed to be "more of a to do" if I were you.
I was just raised that a funeral was to be a honorary service no matter who it was for. You always dressed nicely. I just thought it was odd that even the people from his own department didn't dress up a little. I thought T-shirts, sweatshirts and blue jeans were a little out of line. I could understand not being in full dress but a pair of dockers and a white shirt wouldn't have hurt anyone.
I am not losing any sleep over it, I just thought it was a little odd.
Originally posted by lomfs24
You always dressed nicely. I thought T-shirts, sweatshirts and blue jeans were a little out of line. .
That goes for a lot of other things these days. Talking with long time members of my department, if anyone showed up to a meeting at the firehouse in a T-shirt years ago, they would be sent home to go shower and get changed. It was a sign of respect for the department to at least show up with a clean shirt and pants for a meeting. Today, half the guys at a meeting look like they just came from working in the yard. "Young" guys today just don't understand what is the "big deal" about getting "dressed up" for things. Just the way society seems to be going.
I tend to agree with both of you about the dressing up thing, but one thought that enters my mind is maybe the deceased was a "jeans-n-shirt" kind of guy and the members of his department wore what they wore as a sort of "he would have wanted this" thing. While remote, it could be a possibility, huh?
I suppose it could be a possibility.
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